"The first time I met Professor Fama was in the orientation session for first-year finance PhD students. He came in and announced, 'I expect you to be opening and closing the library. And if you aren’t, you’re not working hard enough.' In his simple, understated way, he told us immediately what was expected of us. In classes, Professor Fama continued to impart in subtle - and not so subtle - ways, the standards required of us to be first-rate students and researchers. Many of us still quote his quips from class as the gems of wisdom that they are. But my deepest memories of Professor Fama some may not readily associate with him: his generosity and his caring. While not always loquacious, I remember he took the time to answer my questions – even if I dropped by unannounced, he would invite me to walk with him to the tennis court as he was leaving - and he would read multiple drafts of my papers. He was always remarkably patient and generous with his time. He’s given me much to try to emulate."
- Matthew Rothman, PhD '00
"I tell this story when I try to capture for people what a wonderful teacher Professor Fama was for me. When I was in junior high school, we were shown a movie of a sculptor relating the life of Abraham Lincoln while sculpting a bust of him. The way the sculptor’s hands dug into and molded the clay made a great impression. Many years later, a fellow student in Fama’s class related an objection by other persons in the finance field about the various efficient markets tenets. To emphasize his response, Fama raised his hands in front of his face like he was about to catch a basketball. 'The trouble with these people,' he responded, 'is that they don’t know how to work with data.' As he said the word 'data,' his fingers dug into the air like the sculptor in the film, and the light went on for me. That was it: data is like clay that you pound into shape to tell a story, to create a picture. And for my entire professional life, I have striven to find the truth with data and to tell a story. Thanks."
- McKim N. Barnes, '73
"I earned my MBA in four years of night classes at the downtown campus. Both Gene and I were very young men at the time. Late into the night, Gene held us spellbound with his theories of financial markets although both teacher and students had worked a long day before class. His passion for the subject was amazing and surely contagious. In my eight years of college he stands out amongst maybe three or four professors that are unforgettable. We thought then that he'd be famous one day and right we were. Warmest congratulations."
- George Visgilio, '68
"I took two terms of finance with Professor Fama. Once during an extra session he had scheduled, two people interrupted us and asked us to leave, saying they had reserved the room. He said he absolutely was not going to leave because he knew the room was reserved for him. The interrupters gave up and left. Professor Fama turned to us and said, 'That works for tennis courts, too.'”
- James C. Johnston, '81
"I was most impressed with Professor Fama's photographic memory and dedication to teaching. There were over 100 students at 432 Theory and Financial Decisions I, and I always sat at the back of Stewart Hall. When I raised a question four or five weeks into the class, and I had never put my name placard up, he answered my question by raising another question, saying, 'but, Miss Chu...' I could not believe he would know me at all. He must have studied the facebook (before there was Facebook) before the class started. That really showed his dedication as a teacher and I relish his classes (the two of them that I took), as the most demanding and intellectually challenging classes at the GSB."
- Josephine Chu, '97